Learn About the Best Equipment for Action and Motorsport Photography

You have attended a Formula 1 game that left adrenalin pumping in your veins or a ballet performance that moves the audience to tears, but the pictures have not quite captured the spirit of the event. High-speed action and motorsport photography are a different league altogether, and you need the best equipment to capture motion.

This is called creating a blur effect, and it gives the audience a more authentic feel of how the event. You can convey the velocity of motions such as the bike rider tilting sideways as they make a sharp turn or an athlete moving towards the winning line, but you need to plan accordingly and take the right equipment with you.

Motorsports take place on tracks, and if you are aware of the light conditions beforehand, you can take the right accessories with you. Today, we will discuss some of the best equipment that will allow you to tackle the challenges of action and motorsport photography.

Using Flash for Motion Capture

Like wildlife and outdoor photography, motorsport photography demands that photographers “freeze” the action, which can be achieved in two ways. One is to set the shutter speed at a very fast rate, such as around 1/1000 second, but this is not always possible due to the limitations of the camera.

A good alternative is to use a high-powered flash that can substitute for camera exposure settings. To get into the ntity gritty of exposure settings, you need a wide aperture, a fast shutter speed, and a high ISO to capture a motion. If you reduce the ISO, the resulting image would be darker. If you use a wide aperture, you might overexpose.

You have to manually set the right exposure settings depending on the light conditions and your location, but a flash will automate that process for you. A good flash will illuminate your subject exactly when you want it and freeze it in motion. It also serves as fill light in low light conditions such as nighttime or dark corners. In dirt tracks, since there is already a lot of debris flying everywhere, a flash will allow you to focus on the subject.

There are many high-quality, battery-powered flashes that we recommend you take to your motorsports events. Here are a few options for you to choose from:

1.       CITI100 PRO with Round Head Accessory Kit

2.       CITI100 PRO with S-Type Smart Bracket

3.       CITI300 PRO Flash with 65cm Softbox, Stand, ST-IV Trigger and Backpack

4.       CITI400 Pro TTL Battery Powered Flash

5.       CITI600 PRO and Remote-Head Bundle

6.       When you are shooting at a distance and need more power, use the CITI1200 PRO

One thing we will encourage you towards is investing in a flash with a trigger. This mechanism reduces your motion, and as we will learn in the next section, stabilizing your hand and equipment are vital to this form of photography.

Stabilizing Your Equipment

You are already aware of speed of your subject and the sharp turns they take around corners. The best motion capture shots are taken where the drivers need to slow down as it gives you enough time to process and press the button.

This is the biggest struggle for motorsport photographers: stabilizing their equipment. This includes their camera, flashes, any external light they are bringing, and possibly the diffusers.

To accurately capture a tilting or swerving vehicle such as when racers drift, you also have to move your camera with them. Depends on your budget, you can get a traditional tripod and some light stands or a gimbal. There are many options for you to explore from and we are listing some of the must-haves here:

1.       The Lite 2P Premium Professonal 3-Axis Motorized Gimbal Stabiliser

2.       The MOZA AirCross 2 Stabiliser for DSLR Cameras

3.       The MINI-S Extendable Flexible Compact Gimbal Stabiliser

4.       The MOZA AirCross2 Gimbal Professional Kit with Comica BoomX-D D1 Transmitter & Receiver Bundle



The other tools are your tripods and stands that need to be sturdy and portable so you can transport them to the location and adjust them if the need arises. Two adequately-sized stands we recommend are:

1.       The 240cm Air Cushioned Studio Light Stand

2.       The 300cm Professional Heavy Duty C-Stand



Diffusers and Modifiers

To capture motion blur, you will have to increase your shutter speed and aperture. A fast shutter speed does help, but the aperture allows too much light into the camera. Another problem with sports photography during the day is overexposure due to flash or daylight conditions.

It would be best if you were also careful about the intensity and direction of the flash or strobe you use, lest you disrupt the event or activity. This is where diffusers and modifiers come in to prevent contrasts, shadows, and unnatural exposure.

You can use a modifier for your flash or other lighting equipment. Here are a few traditional and strip softboxes you can attach to your flashes, strobes, and light to reduce light intensity without negating the impact of the flash.

1.       Rice Bowl Parabolic

2.       100cm (39.3") Collapsible Portable Silver Beauty Dish S-Type

3.       Deep Umbrella Softbox

4.       Octagonal Easy Open Umbrella Softbox


Equipment Handling Techniques

As the photographer, it depends on you how you handle the photography session. You might be content with a camera, a telephoto lens, your trusted flash, and a tripod that you can move around with. You might also consider setting up a proper mini-studio with external flashes and modifiers on stands and adjust into a corner.

No matter your style, take extra batteries for your flash and cleaning equipment for your lens. Also, pan your camera on the gimbal so you can move with the subject and capture real-time images from different angles.

One more piece of equipment that is not directly related to capturing images but will definitely help you see the full scope of things is a field monitor. You can use it to view your footage on a large screen, and it does not matter if you are not making videos. It will help you scan the place for the perfect shots. The Desview R5 5-inch On-Camera Touch-Screen HDR Field Monitor or the Desview R7P 7-inch On-Camera Touch-Screen HDR Field Monitor (HDMI Input/Output) are excellent choices. 


Motorsport and high-action photography is a hard task, but you can excel at it with the right equipment and guidelines and come up with fantastic shots like never before. We here at EssentialPhoto provide the best equipment and accessories to support photographers in all types of photography.